Tour de Charity

Our 23rd annual Tour de Vine took place this past weekend in the beautiful foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Fully supported 25-, 50-, 75-, and 100-mile bike tours along with overnight activities ranging from wine tasting to live music. Cyclists not only face the challenge of the course, but together they fight the challenges of their friends, family and co-workers living with multiple sclerosis.  The sponsorships for their tour go to MS research and the Tour de Vine itself raises awareness of MS and it’s affect on those afflicted.

Multiple sclerosis (or MS) is a chronic, often disabling disease that attacks the central nervous system (CNS), which is made

up of the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves. Symptoms may be mild, such as numbness in the limbs, or severe, such as paralysis or loss of vision. The progress, severity, and specific symptoms of MS are unpredictable and vary from one person to another. Today, new treatments and advances in research are giving new hope to people affected by the disease.  The National MS Society is a collective of passionate individuals who want to do something about MS now—to move together toward a world free of multiple sclerosis. MS stops people from moving. They exist to make sure it doesn’t.

They’re an increasingly common sight on country roads: packs of cyclists, often wearing matching jerseys advertising their favorite charity, pumping out the miles in pursuit of some good cause.  Helped by cycling’s rising popularity, there are rides in every part of the country. Tens of millions of dollars have been generated for the fight against cancer, diabetes, heart and stroke disease, multiple sclerosis and myriad other causes.

Cycling is the on-trend activity,” Paul Alofs, president and CEO of the Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation. “Cycling is the new golf.”  Mr. Alofs, who was gearing up to participate over the weekend in Ride to Conquer Cancer, during which nearly 5,000 riders raised $18.1-million for the foundation, said the event started in response to research showing a noticeable growth of riders.  It’s a trend seen across the country.

Some attribute it to the Lance Armstrong effect, arguing that the seven-time Tour de France winner helped popularize the sport in North America. Others believe it is driven by boomers seeking a lower-impact activity than running. Whatever the reason, numerous charities have benefited from the new popularity, the biggest of them raising millions each.

In a twist that lets rider keep raising funds in the fall, when weather become iffier, the Ride for Diabetes Research is done inside on spinning bikes indoors. With more than 22,000 participants at locations across the country last year, the events raised more than $7.2-million. They are aiming for $7.9-million this year.

And more than 10,000 people are expected to participate this year in the 22 one- or two-day MS Bike Tour events taking place nationwide between this month and September.

To find out more about bike riding for charity, visit http://www.worldbiking.info/charity.html

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